Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Tough Times Ahead for Modular Sales Managers After Covid-19

By now most Modular Factory Sales Managers have implemented what is needed to help their sales team today to react to the current new normal imposed by all the government restrictions of COVID-19

Business will be brisk once most of those restrictions are lifted and the workforce comes back to the production line but what about the sales team and the sales process side of the business. Will you, as a Sales Manager, be prepared for the next 12 months?

Right now you and your team are supporting your builder’s and developer’s immediate needs about pricing, delivery and production schedules. I would assume most, if not all, of your team is working from their home offices using live Internet software like Zoom, Google Meet and other platforms.

Sales meetings, contacts with builders and suppliers are seeing video conferencing as just another way to do business.

Yesterday I was talking with Ken Semler, owner of Impresa Modular, the only nationwide builder of modular homes about a house to be set on an island in the Pacific Northwest. By using Zoom he was able to have the customer walk the property while the set crew watched in one state, his sales rep watched from another, his crane company watching from yet another while he and his Sales manager watched and interacted from yet two more states. 

Each was able to ask questions and interact directly with the new homeowner. This is going to be the new norm for many builders, set crews and crane operators.

Right now is a great time for Sales Managers to monitor their team’s Zoom conferences with their builders. Many past problems in the sales process could now be eliminated if the Sales Manager were on the Zoom meeting with the sales rep and their builder when discussing something critical to either the sale or the production of the customer’s new modular home.

The Next 2 to 12 Months

This may be the toughest part of the post COVID-19 process. Reviewing and adjusting the Sales Marketing and Sales plans trying to be one step ahead of the evolving change to the new normal is really what the Sales Manager needs to be on top of for the next 12 months.

If you didn’t have Marketing and Sales plans in place before this crisis, that’s OK as every single plan enacted before March 1st is now obsolete, so starting to put one together now is going to make your life as Captain of your sales team easier over the next 12 months.

You also need to keep a real handle on the sales pipeline for deals that look risky. A builder’s customer may suddenly lose their job due to their employer suddenly closing due the crisis and that may impact signed contracts for both the builder and the factory.

But the hardest part of your job during the next 12 months will be to watch how sales reps are handling the new normal. If one or more isn’t comfortable working from home or using Zoom to talk to their builders and sales suffer, the decision could be to release that sales rep. Not a pleasant task even in the best of times.

The factory Sales Manager also has to know what the competitors are doing. Are they ramping up their website to work smoother with visitors. Maybe they’ve installed a better CRM program or offer special consultants to work with potential new home buyers to guide them to a modular builder in the customer’s area or simply answer basic questions about modular housing. 

These consultants can be retired sales reps that simply want to work from home and make some extra money. Whoever you put in this position should know every aspect of residential modular construction.

Now, more than ever, the factory Sales Manager is going to be the key to sustaining sales for the foreseeable future. Sales reps, left to their own devices over the next 12 months, could prove to be a problem for the factory. A sales team with no Manager is not a team.

Bear Bryant and Joe Paterno weren’t two of the best college football coaches ever because they left their players to their own devices. No, they stepped up and took charge and that’s what you, the Post COVID-19 Sales Manager, must do. 

Nobody in our industry has any experience with being forced to shut down their factory in a time of prosperity and then reopen months later to find the world of building a new house for a customer has changed so dramatically.

The job of Sales Manager has never been easy but starting right now, it just got much harder and you’ve got to take the steps necessary to keep your sales team on the right path to success for both them and your factory.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of the Modular News blog and Modular Construction Industry Observer and Information Gatherer


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